"Hotel Transylvania 4" was delayed until now against "Adams Family 2"

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, the fourth and final film in the hit Sony franchise, has a new theatrical release date - again. The film has been rescheduled for the third time, although this is the first time it has been pushed back.

When is it now opening- On October 1, at the same time as Warner Bros.'s Dune and The Addams Family 2, produced by MGM. It was previously due to come out on July 23, a week after Warner Bros.'s Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Why the change- Sony hasn't given a reason - distributors generally don't - but it may have been spooked by the ongoing restrictions on theaters: few markets have fully reopened and parts of Canada remain closed. The studio's own Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway opened modestly two weekends ago to $10.1 million domestically, coming fourth.

The three Hotel Transylvania films to date have collectively grossed a sizeable $1.3 billion, so much is riding on an unimpeded theatrical rollout for the fourth. An October debut also makes sense thematically for Transformania, which ties into Halloween season.

Why is this important- The delay sounds another note of pessimism at a time when cinemas are straining to create a sense of return to normality. The picture is mixed at the moment: tentpoles are coming out regularly, and some - notably A Quiet Place Part II - are doing well. Others, like Peter Rabbit 2, not so much.

And that first weekend in October is now very crowded. There's a particular overlap in the target audiences of Transformania and The Addams Family 2, another spooky family animated feature based on a big franchise. It's rare for studios to go head to head with such similar releases. If this happens, it could dent the gross of either or both films, further harming confidence in theatrical exhibition.